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Timeframe And Deadlines In Divorce Appeals: What You Need To Know

Individuals considering divorce appeals will need to understand the relevant deadlines that apply to their cases. Appellate courts strictly uphold these deadlines, often barring appellants from presenting their case if they miss these critical deadlines unless good cause can be shown for the delay. Colorado Divorce Law Group has extensive experience handling divorce appeals. Our compassionate divorce attorneys may be able to review your case with you in a private consultation and explain the deadlines that may apply in your case. Schedule your consultation today by calling (720) 593-6442.

What Is a Divorce Appeal?

A divorce appeal is a request for a higher court to reconsider a decision made at the trial court level, and can only be made on the basis of specific legal grounds; dissatisfaction with the trial court’s decision will not be sufficient to convince an appellate court to hear the case. Divorce appeals are not retrials, so the appellate court will not review new evidence or hear original testimony that could have been introduced in the divorce trial.

Appeals are focused solely on determining whether the trial court made an error in its decision, such as by misapplying or interpreting the law. In determining child custody awards, for instance, Co. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-124requires the judge in a divorce case to consider several factors. If some of these factors were relevant to a case but the court neglected to consider them in its decision, then either of the divorced spouses might ask the appellate court to reverse that portion of the trial court’s decision.

Differences Between Appeals and Modifications

In some cases former spouses may need to go back to court after their divorce is final, not because either of them disagrees with the court’s initial finding, but because circumstances have changed and one or both spouses may need to petition the court to modify its order. Some of the most common reasons for requesting a modification to a divorce decree relate to child support and custody arrangements. The Colorado Judicial Branch explains that child support can be modified if there has been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances that has occurred since the last order was entered that results in at least a 10% reduction or increase in the amount of child support that should be ordered. There may also be times when a spouse returns to court after a divorce is final in order to compel their ex to comply with the court’s order. If selling or refinancing the family home was a requirement of the original divorce decree, and one party has not taken timely and appropriate action to ensure the sale or refinancing, or if the parties are co-parents and one of them is not making their court-ordered child support payments, then the other party might ask the court to find their ex in contempt of court and impose penalties against them.

Appeals are not post-proceeding forms of relief like modifications or enforcement actions are. Instead, they focus on an error that occurred during the trial phase that affected the fairness of the case’s outcome.

Common Reasons To Appeal a Divorce

Every divorce case is different and will involve its own combination of issues. However, some common reasons to appeal a divorce include:

  • The court did not consider all of the relevant factors or give appropriate weight to factors in making property allocations, spousal maintenance orders and child custody determinations
  • The court failed to consider important evidence that impacted a ruling regarding property distribution, child custody, spousal support, or child support
  • The court deviated from the child support guidelines and did not provide a written rationale for this deviation
  • The court incorrectly found a prenuptial agreement valid or invalid, affecting the property division or spousal support ruling
  • The court made an improper ruling, such as overruling an objection, that affected the outcome of the case
  • The court did not have proper jurisdiction of the case

Appeals are technical matters. An experienced Colorado appellate attorney will be in a position to review the case and its rulings to help a spouse considering a divorce appeal determine whether there are valid grounds for appealing the case.

How Long Do You Have To Appeal a Divorce in Colorado?

The Colorado Judicial Branch states that a party wishing to appeal the decision in a divorce case must file a notice of appeal within 49 days of the judge’s written order. A spouse whose ex has filed an appeal will have 14 days upon service to file a cross-appeal. Because the amount of time you have for filing your appeal is limited, you might consider hiring an experienced divorce lawyer from Colorado Divorce Law Group for help.

How Long Does a Divorce Appeal Take?

Every divorce case is unique. Therefore, there is not a standard amount of time for the resolution of all cases. Appeals involve a careful analysis of the court’s record, a reading of the appeal briefs, and the possible exercise of oral arguments. Many cases are appealed every year. These factors can result in appeals taking longer to resolve than a typical trial court case.

Additionally, some appeals result in the appellate court remanding the case to the lower court. If the appellate court finds that the court did not properly consider some detail, the appellate judge will often send the case back to the lower court, rather than vacating the original decision. The trial court will then have to consider the detail in question and make a new decision, which could be the same decision the court originally made. After a decision is reached from a remand hearing, the parties could potentially appeal the decision again.

Should I Appeal My Divorce Case?

Assuming there are grounds for an appeal, determining whether to file an appeal in a divorce case is a personal decision. Ex-spouses may wish to consider various factors regarding whether it makes sense in their particular case to appeal the decision, such as:

  • How important the ruling is and its potential impact on you and your family
  • The time involved in the appellate process
  • The likelihood of success
  • The additional costs of the appeal
  • Whether uncertainty about the case outcome could adversely affect you, your family, or your legal rights
  • Whether the appeal could potentially affect positive rulings in your favor
  • Whether the appeal deadline has already passed

Consider reaching out to a divorce lawyer with experience in appeals to determine if appealing your case makes sense.

Contact a Divorce Appeal Lawyer for Help

Former spouses who are considering appealing a divorce decision will need to understand the filing deadlines, the process legal grounds involved in filing an appeal, and the standards the appellate court will use when evaluating the case. Learn more about divorce appeals by speaking with a skilled Colorado family law attorney. Contact Colorado Divorce Law Group today by calling (720) 593-6442 to request your confidential case review.